Real Deal Barn Find: 1934 Harley VLD

There is a stretch of valley as you pass the Oregon border on I5 where you know you are in California. Only a handful of miles before it had been green and luscious, and now there is a twinge of heat in the air, and dry brown patches of earth appear spotty at first, then everywhere. It’s here that I dream of riding of 1930’s Knucklehead, like the 1934 Harley Davidson VLD found here on eBay.

Everything about a Harley, new or old, is made for a road trip. The springy comfortable seat, the wide handlebars, and perfect footrest – which position you perfectly above the growly Big Twin 74-cubic-inch Flathead and oversized Cocker tires. Having just driven (in 19 hours, mind you) from Temecula, CA back to Seattle in a Honda HRV, I can truthfully say I dreamt the entire time of forging the same cement trail again – but this time on a bike like this – soaking in the beauty of the bike, and the beauty of the landscape simultaneously.

This is the bike for the adventure – perfectly patina’d and preserved, and ready to ride after a fairly straightforward restoration. Personally, the ’34 is a great representative of my favorite iconic Harley traits – big, heavy, flathead engines and obvious Art Deco-inspired lines. Everything about these ’34 bikes are substantive, thick, and masculine – unlike early generations that began by bicycle manufacturers and evolved slowly until these Bad Boys started rolling off the lines. Suddenly, with the success of Big Bike’s like the Excelsior Super X, the Indian Scout, and the Knuckleheads, motorcycles entered a new era of rideability, durability, and substance.

This example, the seller tells us is a “…late ’34 motor number and early ’35 frame that may or may not have come together…” and as a stamped VLD model it was a generator-equipped model with high-compression pistons. At a Buy It Now price of $24.5k, it’s already at the high side of values – with a bunch of perfectly restored beauties available between $19 and $25k. The question is simple then – do you buy a Barn Find and ride un-restored, or spend about the same for a rebuilt VLD that looks like new? Time to decide. And time to ride!


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  1. Chris in WNC

    pleasepleaseplease do not restore this one.

    just do what it needs mechanically to be a safe and dependable ride.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Well, I like doing the resto/repair work myself. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to work on my own stuff. This would be a great project but there’s a chance you won’t have to do much except clean it up and ride it. Resto comes later. I always liked the VL; it had those drop-forged fork legs making them impossible to extend. You had to put something else on if you wanted to customize one of these. Total-loss lube system always took some adjustments to get it to work right. A lot of these were stripped down and overhauled just because the lube system wasn’t set properly. This bike would be most welcome at my place…

    • LAB3

      Agreed on getting it running and riding it! This would be a dream to bring back to life, everything is simple and straight forward. Have never dealt with a total loss oiling system, I bet it’s going to take a good bit of Pine-Sol to take away the existing fire danger that’s built up over the years.

  3. Steve A

    WOOOOW! About a year ago I picked up a 34 myself. It had been sitting for over 30 years. Completely stock and complete. Got it home, played around with it doing the usual things to anything sitting for a long time. After all said and done, she fired right back to life on the 3rd kick.
    Not really sure what this guys thinking, but I got mine for $2,500.00
    Oh! I get it! Mine’s blue. This one is red.
    All the difference in the world!
    Somehow, with this one, I have no doubt some fool and his money will soon part. 😎

  4. TBAU

    Lovely writing Garr.
    I’ve never been to the western side of the US but I was there while reading your first paragraph.

  5. Howard A

    Ok, I’ve been a bit harsh on old motorcycles in the past, and I’ll admit, this is pretty cool, however, and it comes down to money again, how can someone justify spending $30g’s on this, and I say this every time, it buys a “move-in” condition house in Upper Michigan, in case people forget what $30 grand, after restoration, will buy. Spending this kind of money on nothing more than a toy that, let’s face it, a short putt on a Sunday afternoon would be fine, but long rides on motorcycles takes a certain commitment, heck, even my GoldWing would be a challenge I’m not sure I’m up for. $30 grand for this? Sorry, they’re nuts. Steve’s deal is where this should be.

    • Scott Staff

      30g on Harley or living in Michigan…….hmmmm I’ll take Harley.

      • Mountainwoodie

        Cold. You could have the same house for 400 K in California.:)

      • Howard A

        You sure about that? Been to the UP ( der hey)? When I lived in N. Wis. I made regular trips to the UP ( der hey) It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the Mid-west. They don’t call it Lake Superior for nothing. Colorado is nice, because the Rockies are new to me,( but boring otherwise) but I still miss the UP (der hey) and if things go south here in Colorado, I’d move back there in a minute.

      • LAB3

        I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled extensively throughout the US and Da U.P. of Michigan is second to none if you want to be east of the Mississippi. Beautiful countryside and great people but if you’re not an outdoorsman or have the guts to live a life of true freedom then it’s probably not for you.

  6. jdjonesdr

    I wonder why the front pipe is off.

    • LAB3

      It’s covered in the original ad

  7. Jay E.

    Nice write up!

  8. LAB3

    Bike was just relisted with a Buy It Now price of $17,500. Still a bit rich for my blood…

  9. sluggo

    The problem for this listing is the lead in on the writing, Anyone with left coast credentials and a true appreciation of what riding a vintage/Classic bike KNOWs the interstate is NOT where its at Jack!,, Done the I-5 slog so many times could do it blindfolded and NOT my idea of fun,
    However, start north of the Bay Area and hit 101 and go North along the coastline, THEN you got an amazing ride and scenery, The Oregon coastline is rivaled by NONE. Having just attended Sundays Oregon Vintage MC and many other clubs attending (BMW club, AMCA, BSA OC, Dont forget the PABATCO registry for the Hodaka club) down in Benton county fairgrounds in Corvallis, We had over 100 vintage bikes on display. Some cannonball run bikes as well, and the Indian Chief with the Buffalo hide/fur seat cove and original patina was not to be missed.
    Interstates? Pssshaw……. you can have em!.. Give me the back lanes and country roads every time. THATS where a scoot like this shines! There was a club ride on Saturday and you could see many of these bikes running in all their glory.
    The Fairgrounds is a short dash to the coastline and many riders come down from Portland or come up from down south and then hang out, and then do the loop along the coast on the way home.


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